To ensure that CSBA continues to refine and enhance our comprehensive support and service offerings, we developed CSBA’s 2023 Strategic Priorities Implementation Plan, with clearly defined goals, strategies and impact measures that will allow us to fully implement the Board of Directors’ priorities. At the same time, we continued to explore initiatives that expand the options available to CSBA members as you work to address critical issues like staffing shortages. This past year, CSBA secured $1.7 million in new grant funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to expand CSBA’s pilot workforce housing project and support LEAs in developing workforce housing on existing property. The grant will fund workshops for districts exploring education workforce housing, allow CSBA to expand a first-of-its-kind resource library for LEA housing development, and conduct new research into the role of county offices and the impact of LEA-built housing on staff retention and student outcomes.
As legislators and policymakers struggle to solve statewide issues like the housing and staffing crises, empowering school and county boards to address problems on a local level is crucial to the continued progress of our public schools. We work tirelessly to protect the autonomy of local school districts and COEs, because we recognize the essential role that governing boards play in public education. And now, more than ever, it’s important that we embrace this principle.
School boards are a cornerstone of democracy and more important now than ever. For that reason, it’s essential that we avoid partisan passions and instead focus on productive policies that support all students. Given the many challenges our education system faces, we must join in common cause to improve our schools and uplift the important work of school district and county board members. The idea that schools are stronger together drives all our work at CSBA. Our members have wide-ranging views on issues related to public schools, so we will never be a liberal or conservative organization, but rather, we will continue to be an organization that focuses on the best interests of students and our members.
In 2023, I, along with CSBA President Susan Markarian and my senior staff, ventured up and down California from Mt. Shasta to San Diego as part of our member engagement tour called the CSBA Roadshow. We appreciated the chance to connect with trustees and superintendents on your home turf and to hear firsthand about your vision for public education, the challenges you face, the opportunities you see and how CSBA can support you in strengthening public schools and supporting students.
Our travels have provided ample reassurance that, regardless of background or zip code, what school district and county trustees have in common is much greater than what divides you. This is a truth to keep front of mind as you carry out your governance and policy duties. It was certainly a touchstone for CSBA as we advocated on your behalf in Sacramento, Washington, D.C. and in courts all across the state.
I want to thank all of you that welcomed us into your communities in 2023 and engaged us in thoughtful conversations that will improve CSBA as we help you excel in your endeavors. For those we didn’t meet in person, trust that we are working just as hard on your behalf. Whether it is through governance trainings, research, or legislative and legal advocacy, CSBA is working to meet your needs and ensure the board of education perspective is represented in the Legislature, in every important policy conversation and in courtrooms across California.